Finding Affordable and Interesting Performance Spaces

There are a lot of steps to self-producing a recital. With a lot of steps come a lot of expenses as well. These expenses create roadblocks for the entrepreneurial musician.

One of the most common roadblocks musicians encounter when attempting to self-produce a recital is finding a performance space that they can actually afford. Most traditional performance spaces come with a cost or require some sort of “in” with the space.


However, there are plenty of performance spaces that not only are off the beaten path, but come with their own set of benefits for your program and for your audience. Let’s take some time today to brainstorm what makes an affordable and interesting performance space.



What makes a space “affordable”?

The first thing we should consider is what it means for a space to be both “affordable” and “interesting”. It’s easy to think of “affordable” as simply inexpensive or reasonably priced. After all that is literally the definition of affordable. And it certainly is a large factor of finding a good performance space.


Things can also be affordable in value though. For example, are there services you could trade to procure the space? Could you set up a donation to the space or its organization in exchange for its use? Does the cost of a space come with some other value (i.e. a specific audience you want to target, a growing relationship with the organization, etc.?). These are the kinds of questions you’ll want to ask yourself when considering what makes a space “affordable”. The key is being creative, finding something of value to the space, and making sure that what you offer is as equal of value as possible to what you’re receiving.


Furthermore, we need to look at the hidden costs of a performance space. While many spaces themselves may be low cost or free, the price of a piano/keyboard, seating, or other factors that tend to come with a traditional space may raise the cost.


With that in mind, let’s now look at some interesting performance spaces that can also be surprisingly affordable.


Where to look for interesting performance spaces

One of my favorite ways to come up with non-traditional performance spaces is to first find a theme for my program, and then base the space off of that. Even if your program doesn’t have a particular theme, think about what kind of space would enhance the experience of the music. With that in mind, here’s a short list of examples:


Libraries – programs about books, literary characters, authors, famous poems, etc.

Parks and gardens – pastoral programs, programs about plants, flowers, seasons, etc.

Museums and galleries – programs about art, history, or anything the museum is about

Local schools or educational buildings – programs about kids, learning, education, etc.

Restaurants, coffee shops, or bars – programs about food, friendship, parties, etc.

Government buildings – programs about history, culture, social issues, etc.


Certainly some of these spaces are going to be more affordable than others, and some may come with extra costs. If you look at different levels of each though (such as smaller museums, local libraries, or perhaps spaces in a less-populated area), you may find more affordability or receptiveness.


One final factor to consider when looking for performance spaces is who do you know and who do you want to come. If you know someone who works at a space that could be used for a performance, talk to them about it! You may be surprised to find that they’re open to the idea. Perhaps they’ve even held performances at their space before. You might also want to think of the size of your performance, and whether or not it could be held in someone’s home in the salon style.


To many musicians, finding a space to perform can feel like a big obstacle when it comes to self-producing a recital. However, with a little creativity, there’s no limit to the affordable and interesting performance spaces you can find.


What makes a performance space affordable and/or interesting to you?

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